Our stay at Schoone Oordt in Swellendam will be one of the highlights of our trip. The owners, Richard and Alison Walker set out to create a guest house that had all the ambiance and amenities they like when they travel and provide a feeling of being at home for the guests. They have succeeded brilliantly (to use the South African word for something marvelous).
They took an old carriage house built in 1853 that had been neglected for a while and refurbished it. Richard did much of the hard work refinishing and rebuilding with the usual troubles that come with a remodel. Then they added a separate building with rooms for guests. The rooms come with a deck overlooking fountains and a pool and are large enough that you don’t feel the need for more room. Breakfasts are gourmet and filling. My favorite was the Mushroom stack. This included free range ham, a layer of gourmet mushroom, tomato and egg with a great sauce to top it off. The combination of flavors had all of us in ecstasy.
But the most important aspect is the feeling of being home. As I said yesterday, we were greeted with a gin and tonic and reservations for dinner at Field and Fork which turned out to be one of the best restaurants of our trip. The next afternoon, Sonette and Wander started their two week vacation as Richard and Alison and their three kids took over during the 2-week school vacation period. Jim and I were able to spend a couple of hours drinking wine and talking with Richard about remodeling, cars, his business of advertising and many of the other things that come up when you are sharing a glass or two or wine with a friend.
It felt so much like home for us that we abandoned our usual pattern of going somewhere to see whatever is nearby and only spent a couple of hours walking around town and visiting part of the local museum before it closed. The we simply returned to the guest house for another G&T and conversation. We had purchased a bottle of sparkling wine at one of the wineries to have on our last night together, but decided this was a better time so shared it with Wander and Sonette, and Richard and Alison. It seemed appropriate.
I spent our last morning there watching a pair of greater double collard sunbirds working on their nest. Actually, she was doing the work. He flew around guarding the nest. At least that is what I think he was doing since I never saw him go in the nest and he did chase off another sunbird. It was a fun way to spend the morning and reminded me of similar weekend mornings at home watching the birds and squirrels in our backyard before we moved to the condo.
And we will be back one day to see the next improvements Richard and Alison make on the property.